Faction Pack Overview: Nighthaunt – Age of Sigmar Fourth Edition

Thanks to Games Workshop for sending us these rules and the Skaventide box set for review. Over the coming weeks, we will be having experts provide insight into how they are building and running lists with each faction in Age of Sigmar. For this overview, we’re looking at what stands out for each faction, how much has changed, and how we might approach some key challenges on the tabletop.

Last edition wasn’t built for Nighthaunt. The strong focus on monsters and Age of Sigmar’s bias towards strong monster heroes meant that Nighthaunt were left out of some of the more exciting rules. Even when they had a well received early codex a combination of 1” reach on weapons and 32mm bases meant that they were a fiddly army that didn’t always get everything into combat. Later on in the edition some of these  combat ranges were extended to 2”.

Since inception, Nighthaunt’s allegiance abilities have been built around the Ethereal ability that ignores positive and negative modifiers to saves and various debuffs built around charging your opponent with as many units as possible to ensure you’re getting the roll you wanted. In this index they retain the former, see changes to the latter, and get a host of new control-related abilities that should help alter the odds when scoring. Nighthaunt continue to receive the “Auto wound” crit on the majority of their weapons. Most units still only do 1 damage and high rend attacks are few and far between. Fortunately, this index does give each of the spooky ghosts specific character and there is a great deal of microsynergy between specific units and heroes that listbuilders will enjoy.

Nighthaunt. Spectral knights atop ethereal steeds.

Alliance Abilities

Ethereal (passive): This trait remains basically the same and non-Nagash Nighthaunt units will ignore all modifiers to save rolls.

Discorporate (reaction 1 CP): This has long been a substitute to “all out defense” for Nighthaunt and is a command ability that gives a 5+ ward.

Wave of Terror (your charge phase): Friendly Nighthaunt units can use a charge ability even if they are in combat. If they roll a charge roll of 3 or less they don’t count as having a used a charge ability. 

  • Your units in combat are able to charge again – with all the flying abilities if you roll extremely well you can “leapfrog” from one unit to another.
  • This allows the next three abilities to be unlocked – now that everything is an ability this was required to restrict your worst charge rolls.
  • This ability is active in your phase so using a countercharge won’t let you active your nighthaunt goodies. 
  • All of the abilities below (Shriek, Petrify, Stun) can only be used once per army. 

Shriek (your charge phase): Pick a unit that that charged and an enemy unit; subtract 1 from hit roles for that enemy unit for the rest of the turn.

Petrify (your charge phase): Pick a Hero that has charged and an enemy unit. The target has Strike-last for the rest of the turn.

Stun (your charge phase): Pick a War Machine or Cavalry and an enemy unit. That unit subtracts 1 from save rolls for the rest of the turn.

I think that the new wave of terror is going to be well received since it further reduces the “Slot Machine” aspect of the army where some turns were overkill and others where your charges just were not enough get even a -1 to save. The new rules will put more skill on positioning and picking targets and less importance on having random bodies to throw into combat. The timing of these activations is an improvement for the player as well. You’re able completely finish your charges before deciding where to allocate your wave of terror.

Battle Formations

Ethereal Translocation: (Once per turn (army) Your Movement Phase) Pick a friendly nighthaunt unit that is not in combat and set them up again more than 9” from all enemy units.

Vengeful Malison: (Once per turn (army) End of Any Turn) Pick up to three enemy Heroes each within 12” of a different friendly Nighthaunt Hero to be the targets – Roll a D3 for each target on a 2+ inflict an amount of mortal damage on the target equal to the roll.

There is No Escape: Friendly Nighthaunt units can use charge abilities even if they used a run or retreat ability in the same turn. No mortal damage is inflicted on friendly nighthaunt units by retreat abilities.

Procession of Death: Friendly Nighthaunt Infantry units have Ward (+5) while they are wholly within 6” of a friendly Black Coach.

All of these look to be useful abilities that don’t force you down a specific build path. “There is No Escape” brings back the retreat and charge that was an allegiance ability but adds the ability to run and charge. I think this is a huge deal as too often opponents could look at the potential charge range for nighthaunt and make a quick calculations to limit their threat range. Vengeful Malison seems a little too fiddly to use but the payoff, inflicting mortal damage to heroes without needing visibility, is hugely impactful. Black Coaches are strong and flavorful units (see Warscroll Highlights) and giving a stronger ward to infantry just makes them better.

Heroic Traits 

Ruler of the Spectral Hosts: (1 CP, Once per battle, your movement phase) Pick a nighthaunt unit with 3 or more models that has been destroyed and set up a replacement unit with half the number of models wholly within 12’ and more than 9” from all enemy units.

Cloaked in Shadow: Unmodified hit roll for an attack that targets this unit is 1-3 the attack fails.

Terrifying Entity: This unit can use an Aura of Dread ability if it has already used one this turn, but cannot use more than two per turn.

It’s hard not to pick getting back a block of ghosts that, when combined with other recursive abilities, make make nighthaunt incredibly resilient on the field. Cloaked in Shadow, when combined with the Ethereal allegiance ability and negative to wound works extremely well to keep a unit alive. Terrifying Entity would work really well on some of the unique heros that Nighthaunt have but, alas…they’re unique! 

Artefacts of Power

Credit: PierreTheMime

Lightshard of the Harvest Moon: (Once per battle, Any Combat Phase) Add 1 to attacks characteristic of melee weapons used by friendly nighthaunt units wholly within 12”.

Covetous Familiar: (Reaction – Opponent declares a fight ability for a unit in combat with this unit) Roll a D3, on a 2+ inflict that much mortal damage on the enemy unit equal to the roll.

Soulfire Ring: (End of Any Turn) If any enemy models were slain by this unit’s combat attacks heal (D6)

These are all useful, even if I would rate Soulfire Ring slightly lower than the other two. Covetous Familiar is great against bunched up enemies because it triggers every time they attack, not just if they attack the hero holding it. Finally, the lightshard is a huge force multiplier for a mixed block of infantry and heroes that’s likely going to be what you take.

Spell Lore 

Shademist (6 Unlimited): If successful pick a nighthaunt unit with 3 or more models and if the casting roll is successful subtract 1 from wounds that target that unit until the start of your next turn.

Spirit Drain (7): Pick an enemy wizard within 18. If the cast is successful, roll a dice for every model in the unit and inflict 1 mortal damage on the target for each roll of 5+.

Spectral Lure (6): Pick a friendly Nighthaunt unit wholly within 12” and return a number of slain models to the target unit with a combined Health characteristic of up to D6.

This is a strong lore and Shademist and Spectral Lure are both targets to be cast in your opponents hero phase.

Manifestation Lore

Mortalis Terminexus (Summon 6/ Banishment 7): In your hero phase you can add 1 to run and charge rolls for a unit or Heal (3) the target. This manifestation can’t move or fight in combat.

Vault of Souls (Summon 6/ Banishment 8): Each time a model is slain give this unit a soul point. At the end of any turn, if there are six, and roll a dice for each enemy unit within 6” inflict and on a 3+ an amount of mortal damage equal to the roll.

Shyish Reaper (Summon 6: Banishment 7): This manifestation moves 8”, has a 4+ save and 7 health and has a single attack for 3/2/2/4 and gets an additional 2 attacks if it charged in the same turn.

This is a good manifestation lore and the Mortalis Terminexus pairs extremely well with the There is No Escape run and charge Battle Formation ability. The Reaper is a good way to get another rend 2 attack. The Vault of Souls is terrifying against those beatstick units with 8-14 wounds that can easily get locked into combat with your ghosts. The lore of primal energy, with Lifeswarm, Ravenak’s Gnashing Jaws, and The Burning Head has a good combination of damage output and healing that can move and keep up with your ghosts.

Key Warscrolls

Black Coach: The coach has a strong weapons profile, does mortals on the charge, and can teleport and reappear in your movement phase. What’s really interesting is that you can setup a non-unique Nighthaunt hero that has been destroyed at the end of any turn. This unit can be set up in combat if the coach is in combat as well. Since this is a unit that also does well with the Power Through command you can activate this ability, tie up another unit, and the send the Black Coach off for more destruction.

Credit: PierreTheMime

Craventhrone Guard: With a 16” range and a passive ability that ignores negative modifiers to hit and lets you see units that are not visible this units are made to snipe out heroes and wizards who are hiding.  With a champion they have 11 attacks with a 4/3/1/1 profile and the auto-wound critical ability making them a menace. 

Spirit Hosts: Everyone’s favorite bodyguard unit is back. Now, instead of taking the damage and healing themselves they provide a ward of 4+ to infantry heroes that are wholly within the combat range of the unit. Until the charging starts you shouldn’t have any trouble keeping your key units within that range making them an important protector of your units.

Credit: PierreTheMime

Pyregheists: One of the new additions to the Nighthaunt force has the type of control-heavy mechanics. If this unit is contesting an objective at the end of the turn and there is a visible enemy unit within 6” you can roll a D3, add that number to the units control score, and inflict that much mortal damage to the unit.

Final Thoughts

The vibes continue to improve for Nighthaunt as they move beyond “spooky ghosts that hopefully charge well” and expand rules into modification of the “control” statistic. This is thematically great as many of the cursed souls that make this army up are attempting to spread misery and pain and just make things awful for those that haven’t had the good sense to die. Vampires can scheme, the Bonereapers can build and tax, Flesh-eater Courts can do…. whatever.  The faction rules for Nighthaunt have truly cemented themselves as the biggest haters in the mortal realms. Another bright spot, the entire binary of “unit that wants to charge” vs. “unit that doesn’t care” that fourth edition is moving away from is a modifier to rend. Nighthaunt aren’t going to get caught up by those building into anti-infantry or anti-hero metas like they did when bounty hunters were released in third edition.

Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com. Want articles like this linked in your inbox every Monday morning? Sign up for our newsletter. And don’t forget that you can support us on Patreon for backer rewards like early video content, Administratum access, an ad-free experience on our website and more.